I’m part of a Facebook group associated with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The group is all the WriMos from the Rochester, New York region. NaNoWriMo is a November thing, but writers write year-round. For fun, we’ll occasionally challenge each other with writing prompts.

This prompt was to write something involving TPS reports. You know, those hideous things from the movie Office Space. We later discussed the wonderful word “Mephitic.” In the end, I decided that I needed to write a scene involving the words “mephitic” and “malarkey,” TPS reports, and an unexpected visit from Mephitis mephitis. Let’s see if it can be done.


What is a word that is eight letters long and has two i’s, he pondered. This Words with Friends game was getting hard-core. No more using three letter words. He needed the long words. The double word scores. This one would be perfect, if he had the right letters and could come up with a word that fit. “Two i’s. What a pain,” he muttered under his breath.

The scent of burned coffee touched his nose. A quick click and the report re-appeared on his computer screen. He looked around and saw the top of the boss’s head bobbing closer over the edge of the dull gray cubicle walls. He scrambled. The report was there, but paperwork. Something reference-y. Something that made it look like he cared.

“Hello, Nate,” said the boss.

Nate jumped up and reached for a thick, dust-covered book on the bookcase over his aged computer. “Oh! Good afternoon!” He hoped he sounded surprised.

“So, uh. How are those TPS reports going?” said the boss.

“Oh, fine…”

“Because we’ve changed the format. Did you get the memo?”

“Yeah, Jack…”

“Maybe I’ll send it again. We gotta get these things right.”

“I already…”

“All right then. Great.” The boss turned to leave.

Nate gaped at him as he left. “What just happened?” he mumbled. He tossed the book on the desk with a thud and turned his attention back to the computer. The scent of burned coffee remained in the cubicle.

“Oh yeah! Nat.” The boss had rematerialized at the cubicle door.


“Right. Yeah. I’m gonna need you to come in this weekend. All right?”

“Well I…”

The boss was already gone and with him the smell of coffee. Nate flopped down again. “So much for my weekend,” he grumbled.

He peered over the cubicle walls toward where the boss had gone. The man had simply disappeared. Nate turned the Words with Friends game back on and stared at this letters again. What can I do with an M? “What is this malarkey?” he said aloud, laughing at himself.

“What?” came a timid voice from the other side of the partition.

“Go back to your TPS reports, Sarah,” Nate said. “Oh, did you get the memo?”

“Shut up Nate,” Sarah replied.

“Malodorous,” Nate whispered. He searched over the cubicle tops again, hoping not to see the boss approaching. It was unlikely. The scent of his coffee always gave ample warning.

“Sarah? What’s a word that starts with M that means stinky?”

“Are you serious, Nate? Get back to work! I don’t want to be stuck here all weekend.”

“I’ll Google it, thanks,” muttered Nate. “Geez.”

The on-line thesaurus had lots of great words for bad smells. Malodorous was one, but Nate didn’t have the right letters.

A bug flew in his face and he slapped it away.

The first website offered nothing. Most every word started with an F. He didn’t have an F.

The bug came back and Nate batted it down. It crashed to the desk and sat feebly on its back kicking its legs in the air. It abruptly righted itself and flew away.

Nate went back to his search. “Aha!” he shouted abruptly, yielding a little squeak from Sarah. “Mephitic! That’s the perfect word! And I have all the letters!”

“Shut up Nate,” hissed Sarah. “You’ll get us in trouble.”

“What trouble?” Nate pointed at the clock, even though Sarah couldn’t see him. “It’s five o’clock. I’m going home!”

“You’re an idiot, Nate.”

“I’ll finish this tomorrow.”

Nate felt lively as he left the office. He had managed to use up all of his letters and get that double word score. It might not seem like much, but it was the highlight of his week. He was going to go home and celebrate.

He saw his car and quickened his walk. Then, he froze. A shadow moved beneath the car. “Kitty!” Nate chuckled. He approached the car cautiously, not wanting scare off the cat. He liked cats. He wanted one, only that they weren’t allowed in his apartment.

Nate knelt down beside the car. A growl rumbled at him. “Kitty. Here kitty. I won’t hurt you.” The growl intensified. It was rather un-cat-like. “Come here.”

Something splashed his face, and an unmistakable scent filled the air. Nate jumped back and fell into the middle of the parking lot, howling in pain. He rolled and looked. In his tear laden eyes, he recognized the the black and white pattern of a common striped skunk running away.

Nate tore at his clothes to find something to wipe his face clean. When he could finally see again, he gathered himself up and climbed into the car. Cursing, he drove off. It had been a good day. Now this.


Looks like I might have accidentally included a character (or two) from the stink bug story. Oops.

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